Ugandan rebels kill 18 in northern village, says priest

KAMPALA – Ugandan rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) shot dead 18 people, most of them women, in a northern village last week, a priest said on Sunday.

The cult-like rebel group has waged war against Uganda’s government for 17 years and its fighters are feared for maiming civilians and abducting children for use as sex slaves and soldiers.

“On Thursday night, the LRA killed 12 women and six men in Otuke county, 50km east of here,” Father Sebat Ayala, a Catholic priest, told Reuters from Lira town.

Ayala said he had received the news from parish priests in Orum village. They said all the victims were shot dead.

Ugandan Army spokesman Shaban Bantariza said 14 people had been killed in the incident.

The LRA, led by self-proclaimed mystic and prophet Joseph Kony, is listed by the United States as a terrorist group.

It has displaced more than a million people and shut down the economy of perhaps a fifth of Uganda by a systematic campaign of violence.

Since the beginning of the year, the Ugandan army says it has scored successes against the rebels, who split into small groups to evade a government offensive backed by artillery, tanks and helicopter gunships.

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